Handy Is as Handy Does

Everyone is a handyman or, in some cases, a handywoman. We all know how to change a light bulb, properly hang a picture, recaulk the tub or shower, measure and saw wood, and occasionally do a little plumbing repair around the house.

But what about big projects like installing a new garage door opener or replacing a light fixture in the hallway where you need an 18-foot ladder and need to know how to connect all the green, red and black wires?

First, understand the difference between handyman and handy man. A "handyman" is a person who does odd jobs. A "handy man" is someone who handles tools well. Both are closely related and you don't want one without the other.

Ron Marmer owns Green Valley Handyman Service. He is a handyman and a handy man, and works alone because "I know what kind of quality work I do and always want do it right the first time," he said. Marmer has regular customers throughout the valley that he visits in his self-contained truck full of tools in all shapes and sizes,

Marmer said there are no outright rules for hiring handymen, and people can use whomever they want to change a door lock or install a garbage disposal. His only suggestions are that people receive a full explanation of what the handyman is going to do, know when the project is going to be completed, agree upon a price and never, under any circumstances, "pay the bill until all the work is done and meets with your approval."

When Marmer meets a customer for the first time he said, "I have them tell me exactly what needs to be done, and then I tell them what it actually entails. I give them an estimate and then it's up to them if they want me to do (the job) or not."

Marmer said he has found that people don't like spending a lot of money to have someone change air filters, haul away garbage, get rid of pigeons or repair furniture. And he warns against individuals who will take any job that comes along because "they need the work but have no business accepting it and may not be doing it correctly."

For some, a handyman isn't necessary. Just ask Jackie Campbell. Her husband, Ken, is her own personal handyman. Shortly after moving into their home in Henderson from Brussels, Belgium, Jackie posted a lengthy to-do list on the refrigerator. Ken reviewed it and went to work.

"I can't even begin to tell you what I have done over the past two years," he said. "I hung curtains to cover a wall of mirrors in the living room. I installed lighting in both the front and back yards. The front lighting has a movement detector for security. I completely rebuilt the pool filter system and did some work on the patio for the barbecue. Then I planted all the plants around the home with a proper irrigation system. Do you want to hear more?"

Campbell said he did all this without once calling a handyman, but that's only because he learned many of these skills while living in Europe.

"The difference between here and there is that in Europe, per se, there are only a few handymen and they only work when they want to," he said. "They charge what they like and usually there is a two- or three-week wait before they even come to your home."

While Campbell is willing to attempt just about any job around the house, there are some jobs, according to Marmer, a competent and trustworthy handyman will not do.

"I don't do painting or air conditioning, or clean pools, or climb on roofs," he said. "Many of those jobs are specialized and require licensing. My best advice is to get a referral from a neighbor or a friend who had similar work done and that were pleased with the result. That's what I do. If there's a job I won't tackle, I refer the customer to one of my associates who has the same high standards that I set for myself."